A question we receive often is, “What is the best live TV streaming service.” The answer to this question will vary based on the type of TV viewer. A sports fan will prefer a different streaming service than someone interested in entertainment channels. If you have an antenna, you may not be interested in streaming local channels. If you are trying to figure out the best Live TV service based on your TV viewing habits, this is the guide you need. Here, we break down the best live TV streaming options based on your needs. We even compare each live TV service’s channel offerings at the end of the article.
Live TV Streaming Services we Compared
The following are the live TV streaming services we compared and a brief description of each.
Philo offers over 60 live channels at the cost of $20 per month. The service supports iOS, Android, Fire TV, Chromecast, Apple TV, Roku, and more. The price includes a cloud DVR and the ability to stream on 3 devices at once. Philo offers a 1-week free trial. (see review)
Hulu Live TV offers over 60 live channels at the cost of $64.99 per month. The service supports iOS, Android, Fire TV, Chromecast, Apple TV, Roku, and more. The base price includes a cloud DVR and the ability to stream on 2 devices at once, but the option to upgrade to unlimited streams. Hulu Live TV includes Hulu streaming library. Hulu live TV offers a 1-week free trial. (see review)
fuboTV offers over 100 live channels at the cost of $64.99 per month, with upgraded plans available. The service supports iOS, Android, Fire TV, Chromecast, Apple TV, Roku, and more. The price includes a cloud DVR and the ability to stream on 3 devices at once. fuboTV offers a 1-week free trial. (see review)
Sling offers a wide variety in a number of channel plans starting $30 per month. Sling includes 10 hours of cloud DVR storage and the option to stream to devices simultaneously. The service supports iOS, Android, Fire TV, Chromecast, Apple TV, Roku, and more. Sling offers a 3-day free trial. (see review)
Vidgo offers over 60 live channels at the cost of $55 per month, with upgraded plans available. The service supports iOS, Android, Roku, Fire TV, Apple TV, Android TV, Web browsers, and Chromecast. The price includes a cloud DVR and the ability to stream on 3 devices at once. Vidgo offers a 3-day free trial. (see review)
YouTube TV offers over 85 live channels with three simultaneous streams and a personal cloud DVR. All this comes with a price tag of $64.99 per month. YouTube TV supports Android, iOS (includes airplay to Apple TV), and Chromecasts/Chromecast-compatible TVs. YouTube TV offers a 1-week free trial. (see review)
AT&T TV Now offers over 45 channels for a price of $55 per month with upgraded plans available. The service supports Apple TV, iOS, Android, Amazon Fire TV, Chromecast, and most modern web browsers.AT&T TV Now offers a 7-day free trial. (see review)
Best Overall Live TV Streaming Service
While we break down the individual categories in this article to consider different viewers’ different needs, the following live streaming service consistently performed well in all categories.
We recommend Hulu as the overall best live TV streaming service with 2nd place finishes for value and local channels and a first-place finish in watching sports. Hulu offers a robust channel lineup with cable networks, locals, and some regional sports at a reasonable price. However, Hulu’s strength is in it’s on-demand. Including Hulu’s vast on-demand streaming library to it’s live TV service at no extra charge offers something to subscriber no other live TV streaming service can.
Here are some of the highlights of Hulu’s live TV service:
- Offers over 60 broadcast and cable-based channels
- Live stream of local ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox in nearly all markets
- The basic package comes with 50 hours of cloud DVR storage with the ability to upgrade if needed.
- Watch on two screens at once. You can upgrade to unlimited screens for $14.99 per month. This upgrade also gives you three screens while away from your home network.
- Comes with six customizable profiles
- Includes entire Hulu streaming library
You can see all the channels offered in your area by entering your zip code on this Hulu Page.
Best Value Live Streaming Service
Here we purely took a look at which channels and features you get for the money to determine which live streaming service offers subscribers the most value.
Offering over 60 channels (including AMC, A&E, Discovery, MTV, HGTV) for only $20 per month, Philo easily takes the prize for the best value. Philo offers a 1-week free trial and there is no long term contract. Philo also lets you stream live TV to 3 devices at once and allows unlimited recordings in their cloud DVR. (you must watch recordings within 30 days). All this costs less than a third of its pricier competition. For more information on this service, see our full review of Philo.
Runner-Up: Hulu Live TV
While Hulu is double the price of Philo, and the 4th most expensive live streaming service, starting at $20 per month, you get a lot for the money. The most significant boost to value is Hulu’s streaming library is included when you subscribe to Hulu+live TV. The addition of Hulu’s catalog of on-demand TV, movies, and Hulu originals crushes all other live TV services in on-demand offerings. Also, Hulu offers over 70 live channels, including local broadcast networks in nearly every local US market, regional sports networks, and top cable networks. Hulu also includes a cloud DVR. See our full review of Hulu for more information. Hulu offers a 1-week free trial with no long term commitment and is supported on most major platforms.
Best For Streaming Local Channels
Of course, this category depends on where you live, but there are two standouts for local channel coverage. For a full breakdown, see: How To Watch Local Network Channels without Cable.
Winners: YouTube TV
Youtube TV offers local NBC, Fox, CBS, ABC in most parts of the country. YouTube TV also offers PBS and the CW in many locations. This is in addition to a full lineup of cable networks bringing the total channels to over 80. You can check which channels are available in your area on their website. They also offer unlimited DVR storage, support on most devices, and the ability to stream on multiple devices. See our full breakdown of YouTube TV for more details.
Runner Up: Hulu Live TV
Hulu’s Live service reaches second place again in this category, streaming live ABC, NBC, FOX, CBS, in nearly every TV market, along with the CW in quite a few markets as well. You can check your zip code with Hulu to see which channels are available in your area.
Best for Watching Live Sports
Here we took a look at cable sports channel offering, regional sports, and general ability to watch various sports live. Watching sports will vary based on the sport and where you live. We recommend reading our guide to watching sports without cable to make the best decision on which service to use if watching sports is your goal.
FuboTV edges out the other networks in the ability to watch live sports. They carry CBS, Fox, and NBC in every NFL market for watching your home team. They also cover NBC Sports Network, CBS Sports Network, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN3 (Through the ESPN app), ESPNEWS, ESPN-U, FS1, FS2, SEC Network, ACC Network, BEIN Sports, BTN (Big Ten Network), PAC-12 Network, and more. See our Detailed Guide to FuboTV for more details. Note, like all services with the exception of AT&T TV now, they lack the Fox Regional Sports networks. However, AT&T TV now demands $80 a month to watch the Fox RSNs. That’s just too pricey for most cord cutters.
Runner Up: Draw
The best service for live sports is very subjective. fuboTV offers the most national channels which is why we put them first. However, it varies on who the number 2 network is. AT&T TV Now would likely be the choice if it wasn’t for the $80 price tag. We recommend looking at the channel comparison at the end of the article to make your #2 choice.
Best Cloud DRV
Most live streaming services offer a way to record live shows in a cloud DVR. However, there are only two that stand out.
Winner: YouTube TV
YouTube TV is the easy winner here. They offer unlimited recordings in their cloud DVR without a catch. With Youtube TV, you can record to your heart’s content without worry.
Runner Up: Philo
Philo comes in a close second here. Their cloud DVR is unlimited, but there is a catch. You have to watch what you record within 30 days of the initial recording. After 30 days, Philo removes the recording from your cloud DVR. While some may object, I can’t complain about a near unlimited cloud DVR included for just $20 per month.
Audio and Video Comparison
Most live TV streaming services meet the same audio and video quality standards. Therefore, instead of declaring a winner in this section, we will list the audio and video technical details.
Hulu Live TV – Streams live TV at an HD video resolution of up to 1080p at 60 frames per second. However, this is only on specific devices. See this page for details on Hulu’s video specification. Devices that can’t stream Hulu live at 1080p still stream in HD at 720p at 60 frames per second. Hulu supports 5.1 surround sound audio. Hulu on-demand can stream 4K on some titles but usually streams at 1080p.
YouTube TV – Streams on-demand and live TV at an HD video resolution of up to 1080p at 60 frames per second. Live TV on YouTube TV is available in 2.0 stereo but isn’t available in 5.1 surround sound.
Philo – Streams live TV in 720p, on-demand in 1080p, and audio in 2.0 stereo quality.
FuboTV – They are beta testing some live events in 4K, but it’s minimal. FuboTV’s live streams are typically at 720p resolution with audio in 2.0 stereo. On-demand streams in 1080p
Sling TV – Sling streams live TV at 720p HD in 2.0 stereo. On-demand content can stream up to 1080p on Sling.
Vidgo – Vidgo streams live TV at 720p HD in 2.0 stereo.
Live TV Channel Comparison
Since cable channel choice is subjective, we will state the facts and let you decide on the winner. If we were forced to pick a winner, it would like to be Sling TV. However, subscribers would need to subscribe to both Sling Blue and Orange plans and the Total TV deal for $70 per month to get all the channels offered. We figure that cost per channel will play a part in your decision and leave it up to you to decide. As you can see in the charts below, each service has different strengths and weaknesses in their channels lineups.
TV Everywhere – Apps specific to the channel that installs on your smartphone or streaming device. Generally, Philo, fuboTV, Youtube TV, and Hulu do a decent job supporting TV Everywhere apps. Usually, your credentials for those services will work with the TV everywhere apps. For a complete listing of streaming services and the TV Everywhere channels they support, please see our guide to TV Everywhere Apps.
TV Channels – While we compare streaming service channel packages in this article, it is limited to popular channels. You can get a full channel listing for each live TV streaming services below:
- Hulu Live Channel List
- YouTube TV Channel List
- Philo TV Channel List
- fuboTV Channel List
- Vidgo Channel List
- Sling TV Channel List
- AT&T TV Now Channel list
In the chart below, you will see columns like “S+$10.” This is due to sling having various add-on packages. Each letter is a separate add-on package with a dollar amount indicating the cost of that add-on package.
Local Channel Comparison
Since it varies based on location, I recommend you check out my guide to watching local channels for more information on what each service offers in regard to your local NBC, ABC, FOX, CBS, etc.
Ultimately, Hulu Live TV and YouTube TV offer all the major networks in the most markets in the country. They are the best option for local networks. AT&T TV Now is also a decent option. FuboTV is behind those as they lack access to ABC, followed by Sling TV which only services larger markets, and then Vidgo which only carries ABC and Fox in limited markets. Philo TV currently isn’t offering local channels.
Regional Sports Network Comparison
When it comes to the availability of regional sports networks, Hulu Live TV, fuboTV and YouTube TV are good choices. AT&T now is very good on regional sports, but those channels are only available in their “MAX” plan at $80 a month. Philo and Vidgo are not in this list as they do not carry any regional sports networks. Keep in mind that these channels are only available if you live in the market for that channel. For a better idea of which service to get based on the sports your watch, you can see what they have available in your area using the links below.
Fubo TV – Check Channels in your area
Hulu Live TV – Check Channels in your area.
YouTube TV – Check Channels in your area
Premium Channel Comparison
When it comes to premium channel offers, AT&T TV Now has the best overall selection. Hulu Live TV is the second-best option for Premium Channels. Vidgo doesn’t offer premium channels and therefore is not in this list.
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